Market Orientation

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Heiens / Market Orientation

Market Orientation: Toward an Integrated Framework
Richard A. Heiens University of South Carolina Aiken
Dr. Richard Heiens is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of South Carolina Aiken, School of Business Administration, 471 University Parkway, Aiken, SC 29801. (803) 641-3238. RichardH@Aiken.SC.edu

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY "Market orientation," may actually encompass several different approaches to the strategic alignment of the organization with the external environment. This article develops a market orientation typology matrix as a pedagogical and heuristic tool to summarize these distinct approaches. Specifically, firms can decide to focus primarily on either competitors or customers as the situation dictates, or perhaps attempt the difficult task of simultaneously monitoring both with equal emphasis. The proposed matrix includes four distinct approaches to market orientation: "customer preoccupied," "marketing warriors," "strategically integrated," and "strategically inept". Firms which emphasize customer-focused intelligence gathering activities at the expense of competitor information may be classified as "customer preoccupied". Because the marketing concept promotes putting the interests of customers first, many researchers consider a customer-focus to be the most fundamental aspect of market orientation. Because the marketing concept encourages a business to be forward looking, a customer-focused business is likely to be more interested in long-term business success as opposed to short-term profits. Firms that emphasize competitors in their external market analyses have been labeled "marketing warriors". Using target rivals as a frame of reference, competitor-focused firms seek to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and to keep pace with or stay ahead of the rest of the field. Because such competitors may frequently alter their strategic emphasis, a close monitoring of competitors is difficult yet important in a hostile environment (Porter 1980). Firms characterized as "strategically integrated" assign equal emphasis to the collection, dissemination, and use of both customer and competitor intelligence. Many researchers suggest a balance between the two perspectives is most desirable, and firms should seek to remain sufficiently flexible to shift resources between customer and competitor emphasis as market conditions change in the short run. Failure to develop a market orientation, either customer or competitor-focused, may adversely effect business performance. Consequently, firms that fail to orient their strategic decision making to the market environment may appropriately be labeled as "strategically inept".

Academy of Marketing Science Review Volume 2000 No. 1 Available: http://www.amsreview.org/articles/heiens01-2000.pdf Copyright © 2000 – Academy of Marketing Science.

Heiens / Market Orientation

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Market Orientation: Toward an Integrated Framework
Some of the elements of modern business and marketing practices can perhaps be traced as far back as the ancient Greeks, the Phoenicians, and the Venetian traders. The earliest recorded identification of the "marketing concept" was put forth in the 1700s by Adam Smith. In his writings, the famous economist discusses making the customer the focus of a business. Reintroduced in the modern era in the 1950s, the marketing concept has become the philosophical foundation for marketing academics and practitioners alike. Proponents of the marketing concept have long argued that creating a satisfied customer should be the primary objective of business (Drucker 1954, Keith 1960, Levitt 1960). Throughout the past four decades, however, the marketing concept has been more an article of faith than a practical basis for managing a business (Day 1994). Consequently, academics in recent years have begun to develop a body of research on "market orientation", related to the antecedents and performance consequences of...
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